After hearing about their Intermittent fasting (IF) experiences from several friends, I decided to explore it for myself and gave it a shot back in January this year.
IF is a time-restricted diet that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Simply put, you restrict the time window in which you consume calories each day, with a period of fasting between meals. That means no milk in your coffee, and no sneaky glass of wine in your chosen fasting window.
Typically you fast between the last meal of one day and the first meal of the next, meaning 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours when you can consume calories, though there are many variations depending on your reasons for doing IF and your lifestyle.
Whilst some may see it as a route to managing body weight, its main benefit is giving the body space and time to rest and perform its own repairs and recoveries. Overtime, there are huge benefits to your body’s performance and perhaps even its longevity.
Now, it’s natural to think you are going to be deprived whenever anybody talks about limiting something. My experience has been anything but!
After a few months of IF, I’ve become more conscious of when I am eat ing. I know it’s happening, rather than mindlessly grabbing something from the kitchen worktop every time I walk by.
Instead, I stop myself and check the time to see if it’s in my ‘eating time’. Aside from Friday evenings when IF is suspended, the snacks on the sofa watching TV after dinner have vanished. Without a late night ‘sugar hit’, I’ve noticed the quality of my sleep, as well as my sleeping patterns, have improved tremendously.
Like quite a few people I’ve talked to, I did think that having a limited period of time to eat would mean me stuffing my face continually from the moment I could, until the fast started.
That hasn’t happened. Unexpectedly, I’ve noticed that I want to make wiser food choices when I am eating. It’s as if my body is telling me what it needs and that’s quality rather than quantity!
Although there are guidelines, and IF is not for everyone, you decide the times you fast and eat and this has given me a feeling of ownership around my eating. Like many people, I’d slipped into ‘automatic’. Being reminded of my own agency in eating has impacted and transferred into other areas of my life and it’s where the concept of intermittent digital connecting (IDC) came from.
Digital detoxing has been around pretty much since smartphones entered our lives. It can be beneficial in all sorts of ways to have time away from the internet, where we’re all continually connected. I tried it on a yoga retreat in Cornwall and loved it. The trouble is, we live in and are part of a connected world. Friends, banking, work, travel, shopping, taxes, exercise classes, learning and even buying cars are ways we use the internet and devices to function and live.
Not being connected at all is unrealistic and being digitally connected continually has its drawbacks for our mental, emotional and physical well being. IDC resolves this dilemma and, like IF, is about making a conscious choice though this time it’s when you are deciding to be and not be digitally connected rather than consuming calories. You are in the driving seat instead of being driven! You have ownership.
You are choosing to have mental downtime rather than being bombarded continually with options and information. You are giving yourself time to focus on one task, the opportunity to limit and even eliminate distractions, space to reflect and assess, freedom to be in the moment and take back ownership of your life and time.
Start small and you’re more likely to succeed. Begin with setting a time window when you turn off your digital connections, the same way IF does around eating and fasting. Top tip that I’ve implemented into my own life – if you use your phone as an alarm, buy an old school alarm clock!
Tell your friends and family – and work if you can – there are times they cannot get in touch with you aside from absolute emergencies. It’s probably best to define what you consider an emergency as well 😉
I have created rules that I must have done my press ups or been for a run before I turn on my computer or look at my phone each morning. More importantly, my phone is never allowed into the bedroom.
When you’re ready to make the change, you’ll come up with your own unique ways to break the digital connection habits that many of us have convinced ourselves are necessary and impossible to let go of. They aren’t. The world will keep on turning and you’ll have more time to do other things than you ever realised you had!
Before you dismiss IDC as being unrealistic (“but Martin, I need to be connected at work…!”), there are many ways you can introduce it into your daily life and the benefits are certainly worth giving it a go for.
There was a time when being out meant being out, and you couldn’t be contacted. Everyone needs to be disconnected, just not all the time.
Oh and I get the irony of using the internet to tell you about fasting from it 🤣
Till next time…
Enjoy the day you create.